India’s first individual Olympics gold medallist (Beijing 2008), shooter Abhinav Bindra, 29, stresses that it wasn’t talent but sheer perseverance that pushed him to the top. In A Shot at History: My Obsessive Journey to Olympic Gold, a biography he has co-authored with sports writer and Lounge columnist Rohit Brijnath, Bindra speaks about his struggles and perseverance, his battles with the authorities and the beginning of a new journey on the other side of a win. At the launch of his book in Bangalore on Monday, Bindra spoke about his new project and the future. Edited excerpts from an interview:
What inspired you to write this book?
The biggest motivation was to make an attempt to share my experience with people and give them an insight into my journey, into my life, my sport and me as an individual. I hope some young people benefit from it. I really believe everybody has to chart their own course and if somebody benefits, I’ll be delighted.
His story: Abhinav Bindra at the launch of his book on Monday. By Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint
Much has been said about your dedication and hard work. Does the book deal with that aspect?
I am not talented at all. If I could achieve any amount of success, anybody can. It’s all about hard work, a lot of hard work. It’s about a lot of perseverance where you have to be committed and true to your goal. If you do that, no barrier is hard enough to cross.
Most sportsmen write a book at the end of their careers, while yours has come much earlier.
My career has been a long one. I started about 16 years ago and I reached the pinnacle, which is why I wanted to share that journey. One part of my journey is over and I am just commencing another. I thought let’s get this one out of the way and if the next part is of any relevance, I can always share it with people at another point in time.
A Shot at History—My Obsessive Journey to Olympic Gold: Harper Sport, 215 pages, Rs 399
Is the timing of this book’s release significant in any form?
There is no planning as such. I have been working on this for the past two-and-a-half years and now it is done and released.
Recent books by sportsmen have triggered some controversies that might have helped in selling their books better.
I wanted to put an honest account of what I went through and not write a book with stuff that would push the selling of a few more copies. My sport, for me, is something pure and I didn’t want to make that space ugly by saying something that isn’t true. I have shared all my experiences in complete honesty and have been forthright.
You have always made your dislike for sports administrators clear. Does the book touch upon that?
My book is an honest account of my experience in the past 10-12 years and I have also given my suggestions about what can be done to improve things. I am passionate about sport and I am keen to see it develop, which can happen only if we have the best talent and great sports administrators. We need to get the right people in the right job.
Does the book comment on the larger aspect of shooting and/or Indian sport?
It’s about my entire sporting journey and how it culminated into an Olympic medal. It also talks about life beyond and my struggles after that win.
Everyone remembers your poker-faced reaction to the Olympic victory. Yet, in the book, you speak of breaking down and crying in a hotel room in Bhopal after a chaotic welcome. Did public reaction overwhelm you more than the victory itself?
For several years in my life, I only dreamt of the moment when I would win. I never thought for a millisecond beyond that. When I actually won, I felt a void and felt overwhelmed by the love and affection that this country gave me and how excited people were. It was not what I had expected.
How do you achieve that balance between life and sport?
I follow art a little bit, when I go to an art gallery, that gives me a little bit of perspective and a little bit of peace. I have been brought up in that environment since my parents enjoy art as well.
What’s your next goal?
Preparation for the London Olympics is coming along. I have been back in form for the past year and a half and am happy that I qualified and made it to my fourth Olympics. I am looking forward to the challenge. I just hope the whole country sends positive energy towards me and the other Indian athletes. It’s important that the collective consciousness thinks of positive results. As in any tournament, the conditions will vary from the previous one so I have to adapt myself. The venue will change, your body changes and (there are) other minor changes that I have to work around.